Why Poor Programming Equals High Attrition

As the cost of new member acquisition in health clubs continues to increase due to the expense of external advertising and awareness campaigns, it makes a good deal of sense to dig deep into your club’s current retention numbers and understand the true value of current members. Replacing members is costly and can put undue stress on a sales team to replace if your attrition numbers are high.

Understanding an accurate “length of stay” of your members is crucial, as is having detailed data of the value of each member, beyond dues revenue. At Pura Vida we average 32 months for each member, and a value of $263 per month (dues included). This equates to an overall member value of $8,416 for the lifetime of the membership.

The question of how to keep the member longer on your dues line and how to increase non-dues revenue is where a cohesive retention plan is important.

After studying the patterns of each member and looking at retention percentages, it becomes clear that a member involved in ancillary programs is a member that stays longer. Studying these patterns has shown for our specific demography, if we can get a member involved in specific group fitness programming — particularly yoga and cycling — we have a member that is connecting at a deeper level and hence develops a support system to remain at the club.

That said, any program that a member commits to is helping the club’s retention rate. From training to Pilates to barre programs, the natural psychology of the member is to feel welcome and a part of something bigger, beyond the treadmill.

With over 42 percent of the fitness public involved in stand-alone studios (SoulCycle, etc.), the importance of offering dynamic and competitive programming is paramount. No longer can health clubs offer sub-par programming that is neither exciting or ahead of the curve. Consider your staff and ask if the people leading your programs are “super stars” in the fitness world. Do your programs connect and create tribal loyalty with your current members?

Keith Moore is the general manager of Pura Vida. Email him at keithm@puravidaclub.com.

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